David Livingstone

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David Livingstone
BirthplaceBlantyre, South Lanarkshire, Scotland
Known for Exploration of Africa

Livingstone, David

(lĭv`ĭngstən, –stōn'), 1813–73, Scottish missionary and explorer in Africa, the first European to cross the African continent. From 1841 to 1852, while a medical missionary for the London Missionary Society in what is now Botswana, he crossed the Kalahari desert and reached (1849) Lake Ngami. He discovered the Zambezi River in 1851. Hoping to abolish the slave trade by opening Africa to Christian commerce and missionary stations, he traveled (1853) to Luanda on the west coast. Following the Zambezi River, he discovered and named Victoria Falls (1855) and reached the east coast at Quelimane, Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique), in 1856. His Missionary Travels (1857) in South Africa is an account of that journey. Appointed British consul at Quelimane, he was given command of an expedition (1857–63) to explore the Zambezi region.

Livingstone returned to England (1864) and with his brother Charles wrote The Zambezi and Its Tributaries (1865). In 1866 he returned to Africa to seek the source of the Nile. He discovered lakes Mweru and Bangweula and in 1871 reached the Lualaba tributary of the Congo River. Sickness compelled his return to Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika, where the journalist H. M. StanleyStanley, Sir Henry Morton,
1841–1904, Anglo-American journalist, explorer, and empire builder, b. Denbigh, Wales. He grew up in poverty and came to America as a worker on a ship, which he jumped (1858) in New Orleans.
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 found him in 1871. Unable to persuade Livingstone to leave, Stanley joined him on a journey (1871–72) to the north end of Lake Tanganyika. In 1873 Livingstone died in the village of Chief Chitambo. African followers carried his body to the coast; it was sent to England and buried in Westminster Abbey. Livingstone's last journals were edited by Horace Waller (1874).


There are some 100 biographies of Livingstone; among them are those by J. Simmons (1955, repr. 1962), G. Martelli (1970), T. Jeal (1973), and O. Ransford (1978).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Livingstone, David


Born Mar. 19, 1813, in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland; died May 1, 1873, in Chitambo, Zambia. British explorer of Africa.

Livingstone was a physician by education. In 1840 he was sent by the London Missionary Society to South Africa. From 1841 to 1852 he lived among the Bakwena in the Kalahari region, which he explored from south to north. In 1849 he was the first to reach Lake Ngami, and in 1851 he discovered the Linyanti River, as well as the lower course of the Kwando, a right tributary of the Zambezi. During 1853 and 1854, Livingstone traveled up the Zambezi from its mouth to its most distant tributary, the Chefumage. Beyond Lake Dilolo, at 11 °S lat., he discovered the watershed between the upper Zambezi and the Kasai, of the Congo system. Turning west, he reached the Atlantic Ocean at Luanda. In 1855, Livingstone returned to the upper course of the Zambezi, followed the river all the way down to the delta, discovered the Victoria Falls (1855), and came out at the Indian Ocean near the city of Quelimane in May 1856, having traversed the continent.

Returning to Great Britain, Livingstone published Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa (1857). The Royal Geographical Society awarded him its gold medal for this trip. Livingstone was appointed British consul in Quelimane and was made the chief of a government-sponsored research expedition that arrived at the Zambezi delta in May 1858. In 1859 he discovered Lake Shirwa and visited Lake Nyasa, which had been discovered by the Portuguese explorer C. Boccaro in 1616. In 1860, Livingstone traveled up the Zambezi to the Linyanti, and in 1861 he completed his exploration of Lake Nyasa. Livingstone returned to Great Britain in 1864. In 1865 his second book was published: Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambezi and Its Tributaries, which he wrote together with his brother and fellow explorer, Charles. In 1866, Livingstone again arrived in East Africa and soon lost contact with Europe. From 1867 to 1871 he investigated the southern and western shores of Lake Tanganyika; he discovered Lake Bangweulu to the southwest and the large north-flowing Lualaba, which is the upper Congo (though Livingstone did not know that). He became seriously ill and turned back. Livingstone settled in Ujiji, on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, and it was here that H. Stanley found him in October 1871. Together they explored the northern part of Lake Tanganyika and became convinced that the lake is not connected with the Nile. In February 1872, Livingstone sent his materials back to Great Britain with Stanley, and in August 1872 he moved to the Lualaba River in order to continue to explore it. He died in Chitambo, to the south of Lake Bangweulu. His remains were transported to Great Britain and were interred at Westminster Abbey. In 1874 his notes for 1865 to 1872 were published as the Last Journals of David Livingstone in Central Africa.

During his travels Livingstone determined the location of more than 1,000 points. He was the first to indicate the basic features of the relief map of Southern Africa. He studied the Zambezi River system and laid the basis for the scientific exploration of Lakes Nyasa and Tanganyika. A city in Zambia, mountains in East Africa, and a waterfall on the Congo River in Zaire have all been named after Livingstone. A humanist by conviction, Livingstone condemned and fought against the slave trade. There is a memorial museum to Livingstone in Scotland near the city of Glasgow.


Adamovich, M. Livingston. Moscow, 1939.
Simmons, J. Livingstone and Africa. London, 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Livingstone, David

(1813–1873) explorer and missionary in Africa. [Br. Hist.: NCE, 1596]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.